We may be living through a golden era for content, but it is also the age of big data audience analysis, empowering broadcasters with more information than ever before to make their renewal and cancellation decisions. Ampere’s analysis of renewals and cancellations between September 2018 and March 2019 reveals that the streamers have been the most ruthless, with their commissions struggling to make it beyond a second series. At four seasons, lifespan is longer on a cable network, while the longest-running shows exist on the free-to-air channels, where a series can expect an average of 6.5 seasons before getting the chop. So how are the different media players managing their content commissioning strategies?
Comparing cancellations across the 61 shows that we tracked between September 2018 and March 2019:
VoD services posted the lowest number of seasons with cancellations coming after an average of 2.1 seasons. Netflix accounts for 68 per cent of VoD cancellations in the USA. 12 of Netflix’s 13 cancellations since September 2018 occurred at three seasons or lower, including four Marvel shows, as well as Originals comedies All About the Washingtons, The Good Cop and Friends from College. Over half of Netflix’s cancellations have been in the Sci-Fi genre. No streaming series was renewed or cancelled beyond a seventh season.
Fred Black, Analyst at Ampere Analysis says: “The VoD services seem determined to drive subscriber growth through a continuous pipeline of new content, but this comes at the cost of missing out on long-running franchises like NBC’s Law & Order that keep customers coming back year after year, reducing churn.”
Reviewing renewals – Ampere tracked 197 renewed shows between September 2018 and March 2019
Black concluded: “Cancellations for each commissioner group have been very focused; the cable networks’ cancellations at 43 per cent Comedy, the VoD platforms at 47 per cent Sci-Fi, and at the broadcast networks, Sci-Fi and Crime & Thriller at 31 per cent each. We’ve seen certain genres having a specific tipping point, with Comedy more likely to be cancelled at three seasons than proceed to a fourth, and Sci-Fi just as likely to end at two seasons as it is to proceed to a third.”
“Beyond these thresholds both Comedy and Sci-Fi – the two most-cancelled genres – have a propensity to run long, with cancellation often as result of a creative decision rather than a commissioner swinging the axe. Examples include Modern Family, wrapping up after 11 seasons, and Supernatural, ending after a 15th and final season. Other popular genres like Reality face no such hurdles – 14 of 15 new reality titles made it to a second season, with only one title falling at the first season, and just three cancellations across the board.”